Friday, March 6, 2015


              Putative 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton appears to be in big trouble – at least politically.  If her scandal-driven problems prove sufficient to derail what was assumed to be Ms. Clinton's unchallenged progress to the party's nomination, the Democrats will have only themselves to blame for the destructive disarray that will ensue. 

                By subordinating their party to a system of hereditary political entitlement, the Democrats will have left themselves without a viable alternative candidate if their anointed heir apparent -- i.e., the wife of Bill Clinton -- self-destructs.

                Hillary Clinton: The Dem's Queen Victoria, but without the gravitas
                A potentially devastating scandal has developed concerning Ms. Clinton's extraordinary scheme to shield her communications as Secretary of State from federal record-keeping and disclosure requirements.  In an act of remarkable audacity, she established an entire independent e-mail server at one of the Clinton mansions in Chappaqua, NY, in order to divert her official e-mails from the State Department's main server – effectively sheltering them from Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, congressional subpoenas, and general public scrutiny. 

                This is no mere technical mistake being blown out of proportion by media investigators and political opponents.  It was a calculated scheme designed to place Ms. Clinton in a privileged pocket of secrecy so that she could conduct her activities as Secretary of State, and her associated political activities, outside the realm of normal public and congressional scrutiny.  In short, Hillary Clinton and her courtiers sought to isolate her from the public accountability that citizens have a right to expect – at least in a functional democratic republic.

                SR leaves to others a fuller examination of the legal details and consequences of Ms. Clinton's shadowy, "off the books" system of secretive government at the State Department.  Given the Clintons' proven ability to use delay, obfuscation, and counter-attack to avoid the consequences of their wrongdoings, Hillary Clinton may yet survive this sleazy scandal as she has survived so many others.

                But what if the "Secret Server" scandal proves too damaging for the Democrats to cling to the inevitability of Ms. Clinton's nomination as their presidential standard-bearer?  It would leave them without a replacement candidate possessing the credibility, stature, and especially the readiness to enter the 2016 presidential campaign in a position of strength.  All of the alternative candidates that come to mind – at least at this juncture – are fatally flawed and deficient (so, of course is Hillary, but unfortunately, too many voters appear ready to overlook her flaws). 

                Vice President Biden is a national joke, whose recurrent tasteless verbal blunders are exceeded in vulgarity only by his shameless physical groping of both young and mature females – all recorded in painfully embarrassing photos that would make devastating campaign commercials.  Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts is a wild-eyed pseudo-Indian leftist favored by the angry and radical extremists of a leftist Democratic Party -- which may serve her well in Massachusetts, but which renders her unacceptable to most of the national electorate.  Martin O'Malley, the former Governor of Maryland, left such an unimpressive legacy that he departed office with a pathetic 41% approval rating, and his hand-picked candidate to succeed him as governor was resoundingly defeated by a Republican in a state where Republicans are as rare as white elephants.  

               The two remaining prospective candidates are even further beyond the pale:  Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is an outright Socialist who looks like a deranged and disheveled great uncle, and would be lucky to carry even his own left-wing state; and former Virginia Senator Jim Webb is an eccentric, rude, and irascible crank whose presidential prospects are taken seriously only by himself.

                In short, if Ms. Clinton's candidacy implodes, the Democratic bench appears to be empty of credible replacements.  And the reason is evident.  The Democratic Party's preoccupation with dynastic politics created an overwhelming presumption that Hillary Clinton, the heir to the Clinton Political Dynasty, would be awarded the party's 2016 presidential nomination almost as a matter of hereditary entitlement.  So powerful and prevalent was this dynastic assumption that other potentially viable candidates demurred pursuing the nomination as an exercise in futility.

                Hillary Clinton is an elderly, uninspiring, pampered, and greedy grandmother.  She is utterly lacking in political charisma – compare her style, for example, with that of Jack Kennedy or, for that matter, Barack Obama – and she has a well-documented record of dishonesty, evasion, sleaze, self-dealing, and sharp practice in her governmental and political career.  She is a Queen Victoria without the gravitas and an Evita without the sex appeal.  She became Senator from New York, Secretary of State, and now presumptive Democratic Presidential Candidate for one reason and one reason only:  She was the politically loyal wife of Bill Clinton, a moderately popular and absolutely lucky president, and gained considerable popularity among a certain kind of American woman because of her ability to endure her husband's degenerate misbehavior, in and out of office, with a remarkable degree of self-containment and sang-froid.

                Why would such a shifty, unimposing, unattractive, and simply tacky person be considered the inevitable choice as the Democratic nominee for president in 1916?  It is simply because of the Democrats' preference for dynastic succession and connection, rather than individual merit and excellence, as the natural system for selecting much of their political leadership.  Although the Republicans have had some political dynasties of their own – notably and obviously the Bush presidencies – their tendency to embrace hereditary politics pales in comparison to the Democrats.

                The standard and precedent for this phenomenon was set by the notorious example of the Kennedy family.   The super-rich whiskey tycoon, Joseph Kennedy, parlayed his wealth and friendship with President Franklin Roosevelt to become Ambassador to Great Britain and a powerful Democratic power-broker.  He hoped his eldest son would become President, and when that son died, he transferred the family political ambitions to the next-in-line, John F. Kennedy. 

                The rest is history.  Jack Kennedy's brief and undistinguished presidency was misportrayed by the liberal-democratic media as a romantic neo-Camelot after he was assassinated by a deranged communist.  Like a latter-day Borgia, he had appointed his 36-year-old younger brother Robert as Attorney General despite his glaring lack of legal qualifications – his only compelling qualification was being the President's brother and confidante.  After Jack Kennedy's death, RFK parlayed his status as the Kennedy Heir into election as a Senator from New York, even though he was obviously from Massachusetts.  Then his dynastic connection had all but assured him the Democratic presidential nomination in 1968 when he too was assassinated.

              But the Democrats remained addicted to the notion of hereditary political royalty.  The youngest Kennedy brother, Ted, had already been handed the family senate seat in Massachusetts, and after Robert's death, the dynastic presidential expectations devolved upon him.  The force of the Kennedy's dynastic entitlement was so great that not even Ted Kennedy's notorious abandonment of Mary Jo Kopechne in the dark waters of Chappaquiddick could derail his presidential expectations.  Only the ruthless exploitation of the powers of incumbency by Jimmy Carter's team prevented Ted Kennedy from seizing the Democratic presidential nomination in 1980.  The ensuing years have seen the Royalist Democrats, like so many 18th century champions of a Stuart Pretender, cast about desperately for yet another Kennedy – whether John F. Kennedy Jr., his sister Caroline, or the severely addled Patrick Kennedy – to restore the Family Dynasty to its place of hereditary political power.

                The Kennedy's, alas, are hardly the only Democratic political dynasty.  The governments of two of the nation's most dominant states, California and New York, for example, have been dominated by hereditary Democratic entitlement for much of the past 50 years.

                Edmond G. "Pat" Brown held the governorship of California from 1959 to 1967.  California's Democratic voters then awarded the governorship to Pat Brown's son, Jerry, in 1975, and re-elected him for an additional term in 1979.  After an interlude in which he repeatedly sought the presidency and served in other offices, Jerry Brown reclaimed the family governorship in 2011 and was re-elected to an unprecedented fourth term in 2014.  Thus, the Brown family has exercised a dynastic Democratic stranglehold on California's highest office for a substantial portion of the modern era. 

                A similar dynastic Democratic domination of the governorship has prevailed in New York.  Mario Cuomo served as governor of New York for three terms, from 1983 to 1994.  Not content with prolonged leftist misrule by one Cuomo, Democratic voters bestowed the state's governorship on Mario Cuomo's son, Andrew, in 2010.  Andrew Cuomo had previously parlayed his family connections – including his marriage to Kerry Kennedy, daughter of Robert F. Kennedy – to become Attorney General of New York and Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

                One could go on, because the Kennedy, Brown, and Cuomo Dynasties are but the most prominent examples of a "royalist" tendency that is embedded in modern Democratic politics.  We could move over to the city level and find, for example, that the Daley family, featuring the vulgar reigns of Mayors William and Richard Daley, has dominated Chicago's mayor's office and its Democratic political machine for almost a half-century. 

                And this ethos of dynastic entitlement, akin to pre-modern Europe's Divine Right of Kings, continues to permeate Democratic politics in the present and toward the future.  Needless to say, Hillary Clinton's  unchallenged primacy in claiming the Democratic nomination for president is but the most prominent current manifestation of the phenomenon.  A mere minute's perusal of the Internet, moreover, will reveal that media and political liberals are obsessed with the exciting prospect – exciting for them, but appalling for the rest of us – that the likes of Chelsea Clinton and even (one instinctively winces at the mere thought) Michelle Obama may perpetuate their respective family political lineages in the future.

                Whatever the reason and consequences, the grossly misnamed Democratic Party is dedicated to anything but "democratic" selection and aspiration in choosing leaders for both the party and the Nation.  It prefers political offices and political power to devolve through an ingrained system of virtual dynastic succession and hereditary entitlement.  The smug, evasive, and utterly unimposing persona of Hillary Clinton would never triumph in a genuinely merit-based competition for selecting the most appealing and accomplished candidate.  Unless the Secret Server debacle or some other scandal proves fatal, however, Ms. Clinton is nearly certain to receive the Democratic nomination as the proximate heir to the Clinton political dynasty.  The prerogatives of dynastic succession are so strong in the Democratic Party, moreover, that she may claim the nomination notwithstanding the serious damage she may suffer from Secret Server or other distasteful scandals.

                In the end, Republicans should be grateful for the Democrats' addiction to honoring the entitlements of political royalty.  Although the campaign for the GOP presidential nomination includes a dynastic candidate of its own in Jeb Bush, Bush's status and prospects are not remotely comparable to Hillary Clinton's. 

                While the Democrats are eager to hand Ms. Clinton the nomination with hardly a semblance of genuine opposition, Jeb Bush faces not only fierce competition from a large field of strong candidates, but the implacable, and likely decisive, opposition of the conservative wing of the Republican party.  Unlike Democratic liberals who swoon and kowtow to hereditary Kennedy's and Cuomo's and Clinton's, Republican conservatives adamantly reject further perpetuation of a Bush dynasty or anything resembling it. Consequently, Jeb Bush is unlikely to gain the GOP nomination.  If he does, it will be despite his Bush family credentials, not because of them.

                The Founding Fathers fought a ferocious revolution to replace the tyranny and privilege of hereditary monarchs with the competitive politics of a democratic republic.  Over two centuries later, the Dynastic Democrats seem bent on reverting to the decadent and complacent rule of political royalty.

                ADDENDUM:  Almost on cue, the political website, Politico, has provided prompt confirmation of this post's thesis that liberal Democrats remain perversely obsessed with the notion of hereditary political royalty.  Three days after our posting, Politico headlined an article entitled, "Excited for Jeb and Hillary?  Just Wait for Chelsea and George P!"  The title conveys all one needs to know about this piece of heavy-breathing political royalty nonsense.  All one can respond is, "No, we are not excited, but we are surely horrified by the ghastly prospect you pose."

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